Having dinner with my former middle school teaching colleagues/friends last night reminded me how much fun I used to have thinking about, talking about, planning for and discussing curriculum and student needs. As we sat around the table engaged in talk about math, social studies and science (I was the ELA teacher) and the differing philosophies and teaching styles they are now surrounded by, I remembered why I decided to go back to school for an advanced degree to become certified as an administrator. My colleagues, although a handful of years from retirement, continue to be curious and passionate learners of learning. They are invested in their students, they seek out ways to provide the very best learning environment for all students, despite the shifting poilitcal climate over the years. What they are missing is a professional learning community that goes beyond their classroom walls. They love their students, they are passionate about their curriculum, but they feel like they are out there fighting windmills.
The question for this week’s Twitter #edchat discussion was: “What does it mean to be a connected educator?”
I tweeted about the need to make face to face connections as well as online connections-but here is a case where the face to face connections among colleagues fall flat and are not reinforcing collaboration, problem solving, and quality discourse. In fact, just the opposite is happening. In face to face interactions, dialogue and debate are discouraged, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And although this can happen in online communities, there are also many more opportunities to develop conversations and collaborative relationships because of the vastness of the global audience and network that exists.
But here is the thing. If each teacher in that physical learning space chooses to teach in isolation within their face to face community, even though they connect to like minded educators online- is this a healthy learning environment?
Is it healthy to connect only with those that look like you, dress like you, and think like you?
For me this raises many, many questions about our society and how we are raising our children.
Are we preparing our children to become members of society who know how to engage in dialogue AND debate in order to collaborate AND compromise.